Life as the President of MLA: Part 2

So now it is down to the nitty gritty, what does the MLA President do all year?

I will do my best to describe my activities for the year, but for more specific details MLA members can look through the position description for President in the Board Job Descriptions document.

May 2015
Wednesday “after” the MLA meeting when everyone is going home, taking some extra vacation, or finishing up some MLA conference activities like CE or final meetings, the MLA Board meets to do a sort of post conference meeting.  This is where we discuss the meeting as a whole and anything that came out during the meeting from MLA groups (Sections, SIGs, committees, etc.). In general the Board does not make heavy lifting decisions at this meeting because we are just as worn out from the meeting as the rest of the members.

June 2015
The President attends the MLA/AAHSL Legislative Task Force in Washington DC and meets with Senate and House staff to advocate on behalf of NLM and other legislative issues happening within the Senate or House that are important to health science librarians. I can’t remember specifically the specific issues from 2015 but in 2016 some of the issues we discussed were NIH and NLM funding increase, approve the appointment of the Librarian of Congress, and issues pertaining to copyright.

In the past the President is invited and has gone to the ALA Annual Conference. This isn’t a requirement and as I understand, things have changed at the ALA meeting and the there isn’t as much for the presidents of other library associations as there was in years past.  I was also invited to the CHLA/ABSC annual meeting in Vancouver.  The MLA President doesn’t always go to this meeting but I felt it was important to attend because we were co-hosting the 2016 annual meeting in Toronto.  So I opted to go to the Vancouver meeting and one of the Board Members who lives in California and was planning to go to ALA attended on behalf of me and MLA.

BTW I totally loved the CHLA/ABSC meeting and if you can get to go to one of their meetings it is totally worth it (and they are so nice).

August 2015
The Board meets virtually in August and the President prepares the agenda and runs the meeting.  While this is our first official meeting after the annual meeting the Board often discusses things via email.  So this virtual meeting provides the opportunity for all of us to meet and discuss things in real time as well as approve any motions that have been presented.

I also attended IFLA.  In the past the MLA President would attend IFLA.  Currently this is not something the President will attend.  I know some MLA members are unhappy with this and I understand where they are coming from.  However, at this time IFLA is not a good fit for MLA given its current goals.  IF this changes and MLA re-joins IFLA, August is the time the President would go to IFLA.

September 2015
In the past the President would visit the next (their) MLA meeting city and facility.  As I mentioned, the meeting was a joint meeting with CHLA/ABSC so I did not go to Toronto, as much was already being taken care of.

October 2015
October is the Chapter meeting scramble.  There are only 4 weeks in October and it seems every MLA Chapter has their meeting in these 4 weeks.  Sure there might be a few renegades who hold their meeting the last week of September or the first week of November.  In general, everybody has a mad craze to always hold their meetings at the same time.  It makes it impossible for the President to attend every Chapter meeting.  As a result the Board has to figure out who will attend which meeting so that there is at least one person from the Board attending each meeting.

While I was President I really wanted to attend every Chapter meeting, unfortunately cloning wasn’t (and still isn’t) possible.  I personally wish Chapters could spread their meetings out over the year.  My personal goal is to attend every Chapters’ meeting at least once in my library career. I love the Chapter meetings.  You learn so much and meet so many people in a nice bite size environment.

November 2015
The Board meets in person in Chicago every November.  Over the years I have been a Board Member and President it seems that this meeting is held on or touching my birthday every time.  I think there is a hidden passage in the Board manual that dictates this.  The President meets with the Treasurer, President Elect, Past President, and the Executive Director a day before the rest of the Board meet.  The Board meets usually for 1 1/2 days discussing in person things we have been working on (via email) and items brought forth by the MLA groups.

By the way this is the best meeting to see your warm weather Board Members deal with just the very beginnings of winter in Chicago.  *giggle*

This November I also attended the MLA Historical Marker ceremony in Philadelphia.  Obviously this doesn’t happen every year but there are events that “pop up” that the MLA President attends.  For example, last week (September 12, 2016) Teresa attended the swearing in of the new NLM director Dr Patti Brennan.

December 2015
The President doesn’t usually travel this month but this is an important month for MLA.  This is the month that the MLA election results are available and the President notifies the candidates.  These were some of the best and worst calls I had to make.  I worked with many of the people who were on the slate and all of them were wonderful librarians doing great things and each and every one of them deserved to be elected.  It sucks that they couldn’t all be elected.

February 2016
Instead of traveling to Chicago in the dead of winter (thankfully) we have another virtual Board Meeting.  Much like the August meeting, this allows the Board to meet online and discuss things that we have been working via email.

The President also must do some writing.  They write the Welcome letter for the Annual Meeting program and the MLA priorities or goals for the MLA News.

March and April 2016
While there isn’t any traveling the President is increasingly eyeball deep into the Annual Meeting preparation as it gets closer to May.

May 2016
The President travels to the annual meeting a few days before the meeting starts to attend Board meetings.  Similar to the Chicago meeting the President, President Elect, Past President, Treasurer and Executive Director meet the day before the entire Board meets.  Then the entire Board meets for 2 days before the start of the annual meeting.  Once the annual meeting starts, the President is   attending and speaking at MLA group meetings and events.  Hopefully, not many future Presidents have to preside over a change in the bylaws.  That was not my strength and I am forever grateful to those who helped me through it.

Every day of the Annual Meeting is super busy for the President. IMHO the President can call it a successful day if they had time to go to the bathroom.  As busy as I was during the Toronto meeting, I enjoyed the time I spent in the hallways chatting with members and meeting new people.  I know I have said this before, but it is totally true…. You learn the most from the meeting by talking and engaging with your colleagues and meeting new people.

At the end of the Annual Meeting, the President becomes the Past President and has come full circle to pass the gavel to the President Elect who is the new President and runs the post Annual Meeting Board Meeting.

Other things that don’t fall in a timeline:

Email, email, email.  A lot of work with the Board, MLA groups,  MLA staff and MLA members is done via email.  Prior to becoming President my inbox was under control.  While I was President I had to develop all sorts of files in my saved email folders or else my inbox would have been a nightmare.

Pop up events. It probably isn’t really correct to call them pop up events because usually the events the MLA President attends aren’t sudden.  I just call them pop up events because they are predictable yearly events.  For example: my trip to Philadelphia for the Historical Marker and Teresa’s trip this September to the new Director of NLM’s induction.

Phone calls. The President has a phone call every other week with the Executive Director.  Every other week the President has a phone call with the Past President, President Elect, Treasurer, and the Executive Director.  So the President has a scheduled phone call every week regarding MLA.  Of course those are the scheduled phone calls, there are always phone calls from MLA staff and members that are about different items.

The job descriptions document says the average time commitment for the President (not including travel) is about a day per week.  I would say that is pretty accurate but it isn’t like a whole day at one time.  It is an hour here and there so it wasn’t as noticeable to me as a whole day would have been.  What was noticeable was how much of my thoughts occupied MLA activities.  Perhaps this is because I was “in touch” with MLA stuff for a little bit each day (via email or phone).

So there you have it…what I did as MLA President for an entire year.  I am sure I missed something.  I hope this is helpful for anyone who is contemplating running for President.  It was one of the best things I did in my career.  It was tiring and yes some things I used to do in my free time suffered (this blog and my swimming) but my family was super awesome and according to my husband my family didn’t suffer.  With his support I was still able to have a pretty good work/life balance.

My hope is to get back to this blog and swimming more. However, I have had a recent career change that will probably fill the spot that MLA President once had.  I have accepted and will be the Director of my library in October.  The first few months are going to be busy as I learn my new role but I think I can still squeeze in a post or two a month instead of watching Real Housewives.

Three Legged Dogs are Cool

I know I owe you all part 2 post on Life and MLA President but I have gotten delayed.  My 1 yr old puppy, Chewie (as in Chewbacca of course) was diagnosed with cancer and had to have his leg removed.  That kind of sucking away all of my available free time.

Chewie doing good after surgery.

While Chewie doesn’t have much to do with medical librarianship, I have to say the little dude has inspired.

Life as the President of MLA: Part 1

I’m baaaaaaaaaack.

It has been a while since I have posted.  I want to thank all of the guest posters who have written and kept things going while I took a year off.  You guys were great.

So, one of the questions I have gotten over the year is what is like to be President of MLA.  I want to take the time to answer that question.  I will try to provide as much information without getting so wordy that it becomes the longest blog post ever.  With that in mind I am going to make this a two part series.  The first part is going to focus on my experiences while the second part will get into the nitty gritty of time and how things are done.

First and foremost it was an awesome experience.  I wish everyone who wants to run as President will get to be President.

Meeting Librarians:

Attending the Chapter Meetings and the CHLA/ABSC meeting provided me with a rich opportunity to meet more librarians than I would have ever met in my lifetime.   Meeting people and sharing stories and experiences, brainstorming ideas, learning from each other is the one thing, hands down, that made the whole Presidential term great.  Unfortunately I wasn’t able to attend every Chapter’s meeting, they all overlap a great deal.  However, I want to still attend every Chapter’s meeting at least once.  I learned so much from different groups that I feel like it will do me good to step out and go to a different Chapter every once and a while.  I think we are sometimes so wrapped up in our own groups that we don’t always know what is going on elsewhere and big MLA annual meeting can sometimes be information overload.  I kind of got this idea from a librarian friend whose child was graduating college during her Chapter meeting.  She decided to go to her child’s graduation and then go to a different Chapter’s meeting (which didn’t conflict with the graduation) and present a poster.  So a few years down the road if I happen to be at your Chapter meeting, I am just branching out and expanding my boundaries.

Capitol Hill Visits:

I was both equally nervous and excited when I joined the AAHSL and MLA Joint Legislative Task Force in Washington DC.  Because NLM and the NIH are government entities they cannot lobby on behalf of themselves.  Who is to lobby for the things we medical librarians use? Well, medical librarians will lobby on their behalf.  The first day we met to learn and discuss all of the most relevant and timely issues that we needed to make our Senators and Representatives aware of.  We were given packets and created talking points.  The next day we were set loose in 3 teams of 3-4 people.  We met with the staffers responsible for health affairs for the Senators or Representatives of our states.  It helped to be in a group because the members in your group chimed in and provided support while you were talking with your state’s staffer.  It was such a cool experience walking the halls of the Senate and House buildings.  I felt a part of the governmental process that I learned about when I was a kid in school.

MLA Historical Marker:

I got to be a witness to library history.  Last November I went to Philadelphia to attend the unveiling of the MLA Historical Marker  at 1420 Chestnut Street (later designated 1420-1422 Chestnut Street).  MLA is the world’s oldest association of medical librarians and information professionals!  To be a part of such a respected and long standing association and to see it being recognized by the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission was humbling and wonderful at the same time.

MLA Business:

I am still honored that I was elected by the membership to serve as President and to guide MLA forward as an association.  Associations and organizations are changing rapidly.  It was a great privilege to be a part of the process as MLA members, Board members and staff worked to help the association evolve to meet the needs of future medical librarians.  All of us worked together to look at things from a different perspective and not rely on the old “we always did it that way” principle.  Rome was not built in a day and we have had some hiccups along the way but to be a part of the evolutionary process is something that I hold near and dear to my heart.  As I went to the Chapter meetings, Board meetings, and spoke or emailed with so many people in the association, I always did my best to try and understand people and perspectives and to help the association. I love the people in this organization and I believe that we all are working to make things great.

Family:

If you were at the Toronto meeting you might have noticed that I teared up a little and my voice cracked when I thanked my family for their support.  I am not a crier.  I’m a suck it up kind of person. Being MLA President provided a wonderful personal experience for me as well.  My kids have always known that I help doctors and nurses find information to help treat patients.  During my term as President they were able to see medical librarianship beyond my day to day job.  They would see me chatting on Twitter with other librarians from all over the world (*see funny story below).  When I left for Chapter meeting I would tell them where I was going and what I would be doing.  My trip to Philadelphia for the historical marker gave me the opportunity to talk to them about the history and evolution of medical librarianship.  Finally, they were able to hear about their mom going to Washington DC to talk to our elected officials (well their staffers) to try and influence positive change. Through all of this they saw first hand of what “Oh, the Places You’ll Go!” can be.

My experience as MLA President will stick with me forever.  I enjoyed and learned so much during my time.  However, I am glad to slow down just a bit and be the past President now.  My kids will be sad that they won’t get as much Garrett’s popcorn, but I am ready for the next phase of my career (whatever that may be) to begin.

*Funny story*
One Thursday evening while participating in the #medlibs chat, my son asked me who I was texting.  I told him I was Tweeting and talking with other medical librarians around the US and the world.  He paused a second then asked if I knew every medical librarian in the US in the world.  I said no of course not.  He then asked if I had met the people I was chatting with.  I told him that I had met some but not all.  He looked at me and said, “I thought you told us we weren’t supposed to chat online with people we haven’t met in real life. You should be careful Mom.” -I got a dose of my own internet safety speech from my kid.

Post Publication Review: Librarians’ Role

On Monday I spoke to a group of physicians, hospital administrators and other medical professionals on the impact of the publishing industry on hospitals and medicine.  While I spoke about the elephant in the room, sky high subscription rates for institutions, I also spoke about the role of post publication review in medical literature.

The example I gave was Amanda Capes-Davis who comments within PubMed Commons on mistaken identities of cell lines within the medical literature and her efforts to inform readers of potential cell line problems.

I wish I had seen Melissa Rethlefsen’s PubMed Commons post when I was creating my presentation.  It is a great example of how medical librarians can examine the published literature for inconsistencies regarding the methodologies of their search of the literature when conducting research.

Melissa reviewed the article “Comparative efficacy and safety of blood pressure-lowering agents in adults with diabetes and kidney disease: a network meta-analysis.” Lancet. 2015 May 23;385(9982):2047-56. doi: 10.1016/S0140-6736(14)62459-4.  She and her colleagues at the University of Utah Spencer S. Eccles Health Sciences Library reviewed and tried to duplicate the authors’ Embase search strategy which the authors reported in the Appendix (pages 13-14). According to the PRISMA flow chart the authors retrieved 1,371 results (Appendix page 37).

According to Melissa,

This study highlights the need for more accurate and comprehensive reporting needed for search strategies in systematic reviews and other literature search-based research syntheses, and the need for better peer review of search strategies by information specialists/medical librarians. Though the searches in the Appendix are on face value replicable and high quality, on closer inspection, they do not in fact meet the reporting standards as outlined by PRISMA Statement items #7 and #8: “Describe all information sources in the search (e.g., databases with dates of coverage, contact with study authors to identify additional studies) and date last searched” and “Present the full electronic search strategy for at least one major database, including any limits used, such that it could be repeated.”

For me, this comment within PubMed Commons highlights the need for librarians to analyze search strategies in the literature and to speak up and set the record straight when things are not correct or there are issues of reproducibility.  Just like Amanda Capes-Davis who sheds light on cell line problems or the statisticians who questioned the math in an NEJM article (later retracted), we are subject experts and it is important that we help contribute to post publication peer review.

Medical librarians all around the world can point to examples of when a poor literature search could have saved lives or prevented injuries, death or illness.  I am not suggesting the literature review in the article by Palmer et al. could cause patient harm.  But PubMed Commons provides librarians with an avenue by which to question literature reviews presented in research.  Hopefully by highlighting questionable search strategies or corroborating effective search strategies it will lead to better use of librarians and better research all around.

Doing Something Neat with Technology? Submit Your Project to JMLA Virtual Projects

The Journal of the Medical Library Association (JMLA) Virtual Projects Committee is seeking innovative and notable technology projects for the October 2016 JMLA Virtual Projects column. The annual column focuses on library virtual spaces that extend the library “presence” outward to support users in their digital spaces, wherever and whenever needed.

To be considered for this column, please submit a 200-word abstract of your virtual project or a link to your project web page that describes the project and why it is innovative or notable. Technology projects must have been implemented within the past two years. Send your submissions to Susan Lessick  slessick[atsign]uci[dot]edu AHIP, FMLA, by March 17.

Submissions of virtual projects may demonstrate the implementation of a new technology or a new application of an older technology. Focus areas or technologies of special interest include, but are not limited to:

  • electronic medical record (EMR)/electronic health record (EHR) integration and “meaningful use” programs
  • data management
  • data visualization
  • assessment metrics
  • gamification
  • flipped classroom
  • adaptive learning technologies
  • virtual reality (VR)
  • beacons
  • social media technologies

    Please consider sharing your knowledge and experiences with implementing virtual projects in your library to inspire and encourage your peers, partners, and communities.

    JMLA Virtual Projects Advisory Committee: Patricia Anderson; Janis F. Brown, AHIP; Michelle Kraft, AHIP; Susan Lessick, AHIP, FMLA (column editor); and Elizabeth Whipple, AHIP.

Join an MLA Committee….NOW!

These last few weeks I have been traveling to the chapter meetings (and participating in the virtual chapter meeting) and during my MLA Update I remind people that engagement within MLA is important to members building their own value within the organization. One of the best ways to be engaged is to join an MLA Committee.

Time is running out, you must submit an application to join a committee by October 31, 2015.

Over the years I’ve written several posts about joining an MLA Committee,  here is a “Behind the Scenes” post which gives a detailed account of the process.

Primary things to remember when joining a committee:

  1. The process is kind of similar to the Match for medical students.  The MLA President elect officially assigns members to committees. However, we go by the requests and input from the committee chairs and the member application requests.
  2. When applying for a committee pleas list your interests or experience for the committee you wish to join.  This helps the committee chairs who are looking for people and it helps the President elect.
  3. Apply for more than one committee. Some committees are very popular and there may be several people for 2 spots. Applying for more than one committee increases your chances of being on a committee you want.
  4. Seriously consider selecting “Any Committee”. This is very helpful to chairs and the President Elect. This also increases your chances of being on a committee.

We try very hard to make sure everyone is assigned to a committee but if you don’t fill everything out or list only one committee it makes things very difficult.

Last year when I assigned committee members I worked with a giant spread sheet of member requests, a giant spread sheet of chair requests, and a spreadsheet listing every committee applicant so I could check off that they got assigned to at least one committee. Thankfully I have 2 computer monitors so I could keep track of it all.

So please apply to join a committee it is a great way to get involved.

 

Value of Libraries: Presentations at IFLA

I went to the session for the Measuring Impact and of course like all conferences there is another session, What is Value, I want to attend is at the same time and on the opposite side of the convention center. I have my walking shoes on today.

Here is the summary of the two sessions I mentioned.

Measuring Impact: This focused on measuring the impact on IFLA’s Lyon Declaration. Interesting to an American because I think we take our access to information so granted.

What is Value: I came late to this program so I only got some of the session. British National Library talked about the value to the cities they serve. They were able to determine that for every pound the government spend on libraries they had a ROI of 4 pounds in business, development and jobs. They had a really good slide on the different values which is on my Facebook page.

Awesome presentation from Elliott Shore, executive director at ARL, Measures of Our Time: The Value of Libraries. Perhaps it is because I’m a big proponent of killing of sacred cows but Elliott’s talk really hit home. The best way for me to describe his talk is to point you to the pictures of his slides on my Facebook page. But here are some memorable quotes.

-The world has changed, have we?

-We need a radical change in how we collect statistics.

-We need predictive analysis rather than descriptive analysis.

He also gave a nice shout out to Becker Medical Library as example of a library that is doing a good job of rethinking and showing their value. Good job Becker!

Live from Cape Town its IFLA

Since most readers will be reading this when I’m asleep, I probably should say this has been previously recorded. I will be posting pictures and thoughts on the fly on my Facebook page so check it out.

So this is my first IFLA conference and so far I’ve attended the U.S. Caucus meeting, Newcomers breakfast, the Opening Ceremony, and the Exhibits Opening.

I will give my quick thoughts on the sessions I have attended.

US Caucus: It is like the business meeting for the Americans.  They summarize IFLA business as a whole. CEO of ALA started everything off and introduced people. The planning committee members for 2016 IFLA (in Columbus, OH) were there as well to try to drum up interest.

Newcomers breakfast: It was very typical of many newbie conference sessions.  They explained the elaborate color coding in the program and encouraged people to talk and meet others. It would have been nice if they explained IFLA structure a bit, but that really did not happen. Perhaps the structure is too complex for a brief newbies breakfast.  There were a lot of people at this session so there was no opportunity to do the speed networking session that we have done at MLA and has been so successful. Instead we were let out “early” to enjoy coffee and “cakes” (muffins) and to get to know each other.

Opening Ceremony: The opening ceremony was huge. There are approximately 3,000 attendees and the reception hall reflected that with three big screens and rows and rows of chairs.  There were beautiful songs and story telling in the custom of Africa to open the proceedings.  The President of IFLA spoke on their Lyon Declaration on Access to Information and Development. The Key Note speaker, Dr. Rob Adam, spoke on the SKA Project and data. He brought up several interesting things about the big data that will come from the SKA project.

– They will need a super computer faster than anything that has been created in 2015.

–  There will be so much data they will need a network so robust that it can handle the entire world’s data worth.

– The data will be open access but embargoed. While they want to make the data available to everyone, they acknowledge that participating in SKA is expensive and they must recognize those who have the foresight to participate have first access.

Opening Exhibits: There are lots of vendors in the exhibit area with lots of variety. I was amazed by the giant photo and preservation machines displayed (and working) at some booths.

BTW very little vendor swag at the opening exhibit. Not even a lot of pens.

Getting Ready for IFLA Meeting

I leave for South Africa in two weeks for the IFLA meeting.  I will spend the first week traveling with my husband, sister, and brother in law.  My brother in law is South African so we are fortunate to have our own personal tour guide to take us around.  August is winter in South Africa (highs of 60-70 degrees and lows of 40-50 degrees).  It is chilly but coming from Cleveland, that ain’t winter, that’s  spring weather in my mind.

As excited as I am about touring around the country that first week, I am just as excited about going to my first conference outside of North America.  Along with this excitement comes some uncertainty.  I pulled up the conference program this weekend to map out my conference plan of attack.  As I was making my schedule I began to feel like I did when I was making my schedule to attend my very first MLA meeting back in 2001 in Orlando.  I had no clue what to expect back then and I have no clue as to what to expect at IFLA.

Similar to MLA they have a newcomer session where I will be introduced to IFLA and meet people.  Like MLA they have A LOT of sessions, too many for me to attend all of them.  Thankfully some are out of my scope like “Access to Legal Information and Legislative Data in Africa: the Role of Libraries and Librarians – Library and Research Services for Parliaments, Africa and the Law Libraries” making it a little easier for my schedule.

I am sure there were will also be opportunities at IFLA for events and parties where I will be able to meet new people.  I just don’t know about them yet, my guess is that like MLA these aren’t on the official schedule.  As MLA President I am going to IFLA to represent MLA and its members to a large diverse international library audience.  I would like to use this opportunity to speak with and meet as many biomedical, health sciences librarians as possible to get a better understanding and perspective on MLA’s international presence.

Right now MLA’s international presence has been rather scatter shot.  I would like to understand things better so that we as an organization can determine our international role in a more cohesive and strategic manner.  My hope is that by attending IFLA, I will not only learn library things for my regular job but also learn about the role of medical, health science librarianship in the world and what part MLA can have in that.

It kind of feels like a lofty goal as I stare at the IFLA program and feel like a conference newbie again.  I just need to remember the advice from the MLA New Members & Attendees breakfast, “just talk to people, librarians are nice.”